February 16, 2010
Tonight there was a two for one offer on as Queen Mary, University of London’s Palestine Society held its inaugural meeting where about 300 students heard George Galloway and Azzam Tamimi speak. Tamimi is notorious for condoning suicide bombers inside Israel.
This was Mile End, the heart of George Galloway’s parliamentary constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, and so it was a good opportunity for the Respect Party’s parliamentary candidate to make an appearance.
Abjol Miah’s leaflet screams, “I am Bethnal Green and Bow to the Core” before stating on the back “Justice for Palestine”.
Incidentally, George will be the Respect Party’s parliamentary candidate in the neighbouring constituency of Poplar and Limehouse on May 6th, where the Labour majority is just 3,942.
But I am just recovering after a bit of nastiness I was unlucky enough to get involved in. On my way home I passed George outside the college telling some students how Israel’s attack on Iran is getting very close now.
I politely asked him about the Hamas Charter’s reference to killing Jews to which he replied that he doubts it says that. His constant refrain is that as Hamas was democratically elected it should be allowed to govern. All well and good until you read Article 8 of said Charter:
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”
I then asked him about the Egyptian border guard shot dead by a Hamas sniper when the Viva Palestina convoy was trying to enter Gaza last month. At that point his heavies stepped in and repeatedly demanded to know my name while also accusing me of trespassing and recording the conversation surreptitiously.
This allowed George to slip away and drive off. In all fairness to George he was actually willing to stand and engage with me but inexplicably his heavies intervened and the situation was getting a bit fractious to say the least.
At the event proper we heard initially from Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, the NUS Black Students’ Officer. She mentioned the Black Students' Union pro-Palestine policy and condemned the President of the NUS for both visiting Israel and saying that the majority of students were actually pro-Israel. He is now facing a motion of no-confidence at the next NUS executive meeting.
Next was Azam Tamimi. He congratulated QMUL for going ahead with the meeting after “they had tried to stop me speaking at Cambridge, Manchester, SOAS and Birmingham which shows Israel is losing the war”. He said he is “more semite than any Jew in the world”.
He said that supporters of Israel are ignorant and brainwashed and cited the film Defamation which “shows how Jews are brainwashed into believing they are under threat and that Israel is their protector and therefore they have to defend Israel no matter what”.
He criticised the reporting of his speech at SOAS and told those who had “twisted” his words to listen carefully: “I have no problem with the Jews, I only have a problem with the Zionists”. (What I don’t get is that he opened his speech condemning the Zionists who had come from Europe to escape the Holocaust. Bearing in mind that they were all Jewish it doesn’t follow logically that he doesn’t have a problem with Jews).
He said Hamas is the true representative of the Palestinian people and that the only solution was for “the Israelis to apologise to the Palestinians for all the injustice they have caused them and to ask for a new chapter to begin. Only then would we agree. The Jews have never suffered in Muslim lands, only in Europe and Europe threw them out and sent them to us”.
Finally, George spoke. He started by addressing those of “ill will” who might be present and said they “can email as much as they like and complain to OFCOM, the Charity Commission and the police but if you kill us our sons will pick up the banner”.
“The idea of the liberation of Palestine is unstoppable and non-negotiable. Its time has come and it is an idea that is going to win, be sure about that. Palestine will be free and the Palestinian people will return to their homes.”
“The government of what they call Israel will in the end be defeated. The essence of their ideology is apartheid. It is an insult that the Palestinians are called the terrorists when it is the Zionists who are the terrorists.”
He said anti-Semitism is only a European Christian phenomenon and while the Holocaust was the biggest crime in history the Palestinians are paying the price for it.
He finished off by claiming that the leaders of Britain and America, including George W. Bush, hated the Jews.
During the Q&A a student said that “the biggest crime in history was not the Holocaust as that had only gone on for four years. The biggest crime was against the Palestinians as that has been going on for 60 years”.
That just about summed up the level of discourse tonight.